LIFESTYLE: 9 things you didn’t know could stain your teeth

1. Nicotine

Two culprits that stain your teeth when smoking are nicotine and tar. Although nicotine is a colorless substance, it turns yellow when mixed with oxygen. As you inhale the smoke, nicotine and tar find their way into microscopic openings in the enamel, causing unsightly yellow or brown stains. 

 2. White wine

We know red wine can stain teeth, but it turns out white wine can too. A 2009 study at the New York University found that white wine does indeed put people at risk of tooth staining – the tannins and acids it contains can create rough spots and grooves in the teeth that allow chemicals in other drinks (coffee and tea for example) to penetrate deeper into the tooth enamel. 
 3. Certain medications

Be aware that the medication you’re taking may cause your teeth to stain or go yellow. The most common ones include antihistamines, blood-pressure medication, antipsychotic drugs and some antibiotics. Talk to your doctor about alternatives if you’re concerned. 
 4. Over-whitening your pearly whites

Be cautious of over-whitening your teeth – the chemicals used may make the enamel thinner, causing them to become more porous. Experts are still debating whether or not this is true, but in the meantime always chat to your dentist about teeth whitening, and avoid OTC products. You only get one permanent set – so look after them!
 5. Sugar

The sugars in those delicious treats stick to your teeth and are eaten by bacteria in your mouth. While the bacteria feed off the sugars, they release acids that cause tooth decay. So eat sugar in moderation and always wash away any leftover sugar with a glass of water. 
6. Berries

Although full of antioxidants, berries can stain your teeth. The dark colour of blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and blackberries can cause staining regardless of whether you eat them whole or drink them in a juice. After eating berries, drink a glass of water to wash away any juice left in your mouth. You can also drink milk or eat a portion of hard cheese after consuming berries – it also helps to neutralise the acid. Strawberries, on the other hand, contain malic acid that can actually dissolve surface stains on your teeth. If you want to avoid stained teeth, stick to strawberries and other fruits that are lighter in colour and contain more water, like watermelon. 
 7. Citrus and acidic foods

Do you have a yellowish tinge to your teeth? Acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes could be the cause. The acid erodes the enamel, exposing the yellow-hued dentin (this tissue is made up of calcium and phosphate). 

8. Mouthwashes

If your mouthwash contains chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride, it could cause teeth staining. Check the labels and ask your dentist what they recommend.
9. Illness and treatments

Some diseases (such as calcium metabolism disorders, rickets and fungal infections) can cause tooth discolouration. Treatments like chemotherapy or radiation can also cause brown tooth discolouration.

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